Health minister infected; banks loan offer; China hails ‘victory’
Nadine Dorries: recovering
Health minister Nadine Dorries has been diagnosed with coronavirus and officials are tracing who has come into contact with her.
The 62-year-old is said to have fallen ill last Friday and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday night. She is now said to be recovering.
However, she attended a reception at No 10 with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and has met hundreds of people in Parliament over the past week. There are calls for Parliament to be suspended to halt the spread of the disease.
Markets steadied after the losses on Black Monday as better news on the coronavirus in China contrasted with growing alarm across Europe and an English football club owner admitting he has caught the bug.
The FTSE 100 rose by 3% or 170 points at midday, providing some relief to investors following Monday’s rout before closing 0.09% or 5.54 points lower at 5960.23.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Wuhan for the first time since it emerged as the source of the outbreak in January, in a major sign that Beijing believes the outbreak is under control.
His visit came as Wuhan authorities have closed all of the city’s 14 makeshift ‘fang cang’ hospitals – which were converted from sports halls and exhibition centres – after they treated some 12,000 patients.
However, Europe and the rest of the world appeared to be struggling to contain the virus, with airlines cancelling thousands of flights and tighter restrictions on movement imposed by the Italian government.
President Trump yesterday said he would discuss a payroll tax cut with congressional Republicans to help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, a comment that has helped underpin the market rally.
– Airline Norwegian has cancelled about 3,000 flights because of a drop in demand. It will also temporarily layoff a significant share of its workforce. British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair have also cancelled flights in and out of Italy. Virgin Atlantic has admitted flying near-empty planes in order to retain slots at key airports. Aviation analyst Mark Simpson, at Goodbody, said another major concern for the travel industry was whether the coronavirus epidemic would worsen markedly in European holiday hub Spain, which has reported more than 1,200 cases.
– RBS said it will defer mortgage and loan repayments for up to three months for customers hit by the coronavirus.
– Barclays has announced support measures for business customers who have been affected by the outbreak. It is offering 12-month capital repayment holidays on existing loans over £25,000, and will also offer extended or new overdraft facilities.
– Nottingham Forest‘s Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis has said on Instagram that he has contracted the coronavirus, just four days after meeting the club’s first-team squad. The 52-year-old, who spends his time between Nottingham and Greece — where he also owns Olympiakos — attended Forest’s defeat by Millwall just four days ago, also posed for photos alongside the club’s fans.
– Manchester United’s Europa League last-16 first leg at LASK Linz in Austria is to be played behind closed doors because of coronavirus concerns.
– The price of oil has continued to climb, regaining more of the ground lost during Monday’s crash which was partly caused by concerns over the virus. Brent crude was 10% higher at $37.64 a barrel, while US WTI crude is up by the same margin at $34.15.
– Travel industry body ABTA is among organisations is calling for the government to consider “extraordinary support measures” for businesses in the UK’s travel and tourism sector.
– Senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound has described the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May. The Greek Olympic Committee announced on Monday that the torch-lighting ceremony – the symbolic start of each Olympic Games – will be staged at a scaled-down, behind-closed-doors event
– One conference to fall victim to the coronavirus is a conference on Doing Business Under Coronavirus organised by US Think Tank the Council on Foreign Relations